The Hawks Of Doubt

A number of hawkish liberals are doubting Bush’s handling of the war, despite the fact that the war has yet to start.

The first response I have is "wait and see." I have a feeling that if all of this were nothing more than a cynical exercise designed to bolster Bush’s numbers in 2004, then it would be a sign that the Bush team has gone completely off their rockers. Karl Rove is a consumate political operator, and engaging in a deeply divisive military campaign that will likely be over long before the 2004 election season even begins makes absolutely no sense. It’s clear that Bush is going off on a political limb with Iraq. In terms of policy the justifications are more than compelling, but I’ve the feeling that Rove isn’t in the driver’s seat of Bush’s Iraq policy. Quite frankly, if he were, we’d be seeing much better public justification for our actions than the Bush team has so far given the American people.

The second major critique is the concept that Bush’s diplomacy has been an abject failure. Certainly there’s some truth to that analysis. The recent Turkish vote is a major black eye for the Administration, and there’s no other way to describe it.

At the same time, the criticisms of Bush’s public diplomacy, especially in regards to Europe, are founded on the idea that there could be a diplomatic solution to those problems. I’m convinced that Europe has spent the past several years trying to establish itself as political counterweight to the United States. In the end, this movement would have created stress between the US and Europe regardless of Bush’s stances on issues like Kyoto and the ICC. Bush merely gave the Europeans an excuse to do what they would have done anyway.

However, Bush’s positions have also significantly weakened the EU’s diplomatic position. Europe is now deeply divided, and the Franco-German axis that might have otherwise taken control of the EU is now severely wounded. The defection of the Vilnius Group on the subject of Iraq may be a diplomatic coup for the United States. This split essentially makes sure that the chances of EU dominance are greatly diminished. By exercising American power, Bush has highlighted the weakness of the EU in military and political terms. That ensures that the US and not the EU will have the dominant position in the new international order, despite the cries of Berlin and Paris.

The Bush Administration’s blunt diplomacy is a gamble, but it is a gamble that may very well pay off. The post-Cold War international order is rapidly crumbling as old alliances die and new ones are created. In such turmoil, it is of absolute and critical importance that the United States not be caught in a position in which states that have already declared that they wish to be counterbalances to US power are placated at the expense of the national interest. We cannot play by the rules of Kantian politics in a Hobbesian world – to do so would be a tragic miscalculation. The better interests of international peace and stability come not from the staid and ossified international diplomacy of the EU, but from a foreign policy which is unafraid of dealing with major international threats such as Iraq.

Yes, we will lose some friends such as France and Germany in the process. However, the risks of placating Europe are too great. We cannot afford to view America and Europe as full partners when Europe has already decided to take an antagonistic stance towards US power. The fact remains that the friendship between America and Old Europe was over long before the issue of Iraq.

One thought on “The Hawks Of Doubt

  1. Jay,
    I agree with your analysis of transatlantic relations, however, the emphasis of Kevin’s and Matt’s posts wasn’t put as much on the aforementioned rift, but on the underlying trade-off of backing the domestic policy via foreign one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.